When it comes to whether or not women can love sport, it seems like this shouldn’t even be up for discussion in 2015. However while many of us may think that this is completely obvious, apparently there are still plenty of backwards thinkers out there.
Why is it that many people assume that loving sports is just for men? A survey in 2011 found that of the NFL’s fan base, 42% are women. Close to half of all major league soccer fans are also women, 37% of NBA fans are female, and so are 46% of Major League baseball fans.
So why is it that there’s still the sexist attitude that in order to love sport you must be a male? This is in a time where the United States has a black president, gay marriage has been legalised in every developed Western country except Australia, and women continue to make huge strides in every single industry in the world.
Sadly, women’s sports are both underrepresented and underreported in televised sports news. Men’s sports receives approximately 92% of air time, women’s sports receive 5%, and gender neutral sport 3%. And while television sports news will still focus on women, this is rarely on women athletes, and they are usually portraying women as amusing targets of jokes or sexual objects such as cheerleaders or spectators wearing bikinis.
You’ll also find that the quality of camera work, editing, sound, and production are all superior in mens sports than in women’s games. When it comes to the language associated with sports, commentators will often refer to female athletes as “young ladies” or “girls” while male athletes were never called “boys”, and instead were referred to as “men” “young fellas”, and “young men”.
For tennis commentary, female athletes are called by their first names approximately 52.7% of the time, compared to just 7.8% of the time for men.
In order to draw attention to the fact that women can also love sport, be good at it, enjoy watching it, and play at a professional level, a few things need to change. Televised sports news needs to provide more coverage of women’s sports, and should include the same amount of both verbal and visual coverage as the coverage of men’s sports. We should naturally be able to hear about see women playing sport on the news.
Sports broadcasters also need to stop focusing on female spectators and making sexist jokes about their clothes and appearance. Female athletes should be referred to as “women” or “young women” and need to end the practice of condescendingly calling adult women “girls”. They also need to use the first and last names of female sports players, just as they do for men.
Until women are taken seriously both on the sports field and off it, we will still have to deal with males asking if we really like sports, or if we just like to watch sweaty men run around.
If you love sport, test your sports grounds knowledge with this fun little quiz, brought to you by garden supplies retailer – Compost Direct. Good luck!